The ‘M’ badge is the first thing that grabs the attention. It is part of the visual fangs the new BMW 530d uses to hint at the more powerful bite that it is capable of delivering. Since the M-kit comes as standard, the premium saloon resembles the almighty M5 more than even before. And obviously, most buyers don’t mind this illusion.
Major visual changes include a more aggressive front grille, M Series inspired bumpers with flared air-intakes and chrome accents around the fog lamps. There’s also the re-profiled tail lamps, matt black exhaust tips, sporty 5-spoke alloy wheels and turn indicators which are integrated on the wing mirrors. Overall the 530d M Sport is hotter and meaner than before.
Inside, I’m greeted by a familiar cabin, resembling the ones on its siblings. However, the 530d gets a larger 10.25-inch TFT screen and an improved iDrive system. Along with the usual dial, there’s even a touch pad that can be used to dial phone numbers or to feed destination into the sat-nav. It does makes navigating through the iDrive simpler and more intuitive, but the technology hasn’t been perfected yet. Next to it, on the centre console, are BMW’s traditional gearstick and a couple of buttons to access the driving modes, which include Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, and the all new Eco Pro mode. Depending on the driving mode you select, the colour of the digital driver’s information changes. So there’s the aggressive red for Sport+ mode and cool blue for the efficient Eco Pro mode. It’s a small but interesting feature which, in a way, sets the right mood for the driver.
The M Sport package also brings along large and well bolstered sports seats and useful driving aids like steering mounted paddles shifters and heads-up display. Overall, there’s good use of leather, wood and fine materials which give the cabin an understated yet premium feel. There’s plenty of space and headroom at the back too, with equally comfortable rear seats. A couple of tablet-like displays, fitted on the back of the front seat headrests, and a Harman Kardon music system are offered as part of the standard rear seat entertainment goodies kit.
The engine for the new car is the same 2993cc diesel motor as before. But, it now produces 258PS, that’s 14PS more than the outgoing model. It’s also a free revving motor. And, as I pin down the accelerator, I realise, it’s also quite a power-packed one. The TwinPower Turbo spools seamless power catapulting the hefty 1710kg BMW towards the horizon in a quick yet smooth motion. It sprints to three digit speed with athletic briskness.
The smart automatic transmission the engine is mated to, offers lighting fast shifts as well. This intelligent eight-speed gearbox rapidly adapts to the driving style and manages the massive wave of 540Nm torque, making it flow in a more linear and useable fashion. There’s plenty of torque available even at lower revs, which give the 530d a brilliant mid-range making it excellent to drive in the city.
Remember the driving modes I mentioned before? It’s time to make use of them. In Comfort mode the car feels more docile, and gearshifts are relaxed; while Sport holds on to the gears longer for a more performance oriented drive. Selecting Sport Plus turns the 530d’s performance to its extreme.
The digital dial turns a fiery red, and I have the freedom to change gears when I want to, using the steering mounted paddle shifters. It is a complete transformation from Comfort mode, becoming extremely responsive. The 0-100kmph dash seems pretty close to the claimed 5.3 seconds, and the car crosses the 200kmph making it look pretty effortless. It may not be an M5 but 530d M Sport is fast.
I hate to admit it, but BMW has gone soft with the 530d. And, because of it, it rolls more around bends, and then wallows uncomfortably over an undulating road. Even the steering isn’t exactly brmming with life but it’s not completely deviod of feedback. It is pretty precise, though.
What we do like is the addition of a fourth driving mode – the Eco Pro mode. It’s packed with intelligent EfficientDynamics systems like Start-Stop function, Brake Energy Regeneration and also includes a coasting mode (which disengages the powertrain).
So, the gear shift points are optimised for efficiency, throttle response is toned down and the energy used by the aircon system is put under check